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Leadership ≠ Promotion

This is just a short post to capture something that I’ve observed over recent months. This is a sweeping generalisation which obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s occurred to me that quite often in Scottish education we use the words ‘leadership’ and ‘promotion’ interchangeably. And by that I mean, we use both words to mean ‘promotion’. I know I’ve done this in the past.

It has become apparent to me over the last year or so that leadership is actually quite a separate concept from promotion. By promotion I mean the appointment of teachers to promoted posts such as PT, DHT, etc. However, leadership is a much broader concept which involves leading people and pedagogy. Anyone, at whatever (un)promoted position, within the system can, or can not, be leading.

I suppose the real issue with using the word leadership to mean promotion is that if you are not promoted, you can assume that you can’t be a leader. But also, if you are promoted you can assume you are already therefore leading, which may not actually be the case in practice.

So the message I need to help get out there is that leadership is not the same as promotion. People in promoted posts can be leaders, but so can classroom teachers and everyone else involved in Scottish education.


  • Reply Edith MacQuarrie |

    Working in the informal /non-formal sector this flexibility is more apparent – who takes the lead depends on context, capability and circumstance. It’s not a fixed position and can be passed to someone else. We encourage collective working – benefiting from others’ strengths.
    In Higher Education and research this concept is also apparent as teams problem solve using their specific and different areas of knowledge and expertise.

  • Reply Mandy Davidson |

    Having spent some time in the past in a secondment at University I agree with Edith. I think that there should be a better demarcation between the terms leadership and management. Quite often the role of management is more administrative whilst the role of leadership is more idea and people focussed.

  • Reply Eleanor Paul |

    I agree wholeheartedly that this messsage needs to be sung from the rooftops! Communicating this difference is probably the single most important point needing to be taken forward in changing perceptions about the terminology and understanding of ‘leadership’ in Scottish Education.

So, what do you think ?